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Rough Cut

Directed by Jang Hun, 2008
25 March 2011

Su-ta is an aggressive, arrogant star who naturally ends up playing violent gangster-like roles. His tendency to throw the occasional punch in real life too probably only bolsters his fame, but when he seriously injures another actor on the set of his new film, controversy erupts and the production is suspended. Strangely enough, none of the other available actors seem willing to fill the now vacant role of his adversary. Meanwhile, Gang-pae is the real thing. Despite his young age, he has risen to the number two position in an organized crime ring. Effortlessly effective as a fighter, he is often called upon to solve the gang’s trickiest problems. In his free time, however, he often sneaks off alone to watch movies. When he runs into Su-ta by chance in a salon, he confesses to him his lifelong ambition of becoming an actor.

The conversation between Su-ta and Gang-pae (their names are a playful pun on the words “star” and “gangster”) is anything but cordial: Su-ta’s machismo and Gang-pae’s cool, mix like oil and water. But desperation drives Su-ta to eventually come back to Gang-pae to ask him to co-star in the film. Gang-pae agrees, but on one condition: instead of simulated blows, they will fight for real in front of the camera.

The simulated and the real, acting and real life-Rough Cut returns obsessively to question the nature of this dichotomy. Are they two sides of the same coin, or do they each inhabit a completely different universe? The film is a playful intellectual exercise to complement what is, a well told and engaging story.

Rough Cut is director Jang Hun’s first foray into direction after having apprenticed with Kim Ki-duk on movies such as 3-Iron, The Bow, Samaritan Girl and Time.

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